Information provided in this article is from professional sources, news releases, weekly and daily newspapers, television and other media.
North Central Idaho
South Central Idaho
NORTHERN IDAHO – Benewah, Bonner, Boundary, Kootenai & Shoshone counties
- The city of Coeur d’Alene is moving forward with a bike share program. The city council reached an agreement with Zagster, a Massachusetts-based company that has created more than 140 bike share programs around the country. City officials stressed the focus of the program is on commuters and is not designed to compete with companies that rent bicycles to tourists. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
- The landmark Dingle Building in the heart of downtown Coeur d’Alene is under new ownership, and the new owners have proposed to turn the property into a boutique hotel. This plan would include retail and restaurant space on the ground floor of the building with and an added fourth story to provide additional hotel occupancy. The plans have been submitted to the city and now await approval. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
- North Idaho College has asked the state legislature for $594,900 to provide two free courses at NIC for Idaho residents during the summer quarter of 2017. NIC officials expressed hopes that providing free courses during the summer will raise their fall enrollment numbers. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is proceeding with a contract to upgrade and expand the water treatment plant at the Bunker Hill Superfund site. The upgrades to the plant are required as part of the larger efforts to clean up the toxic contamination in the area and protect the groundwater in the Coeur d’Alene River Basin. Source: Shoshone News Press
- Heavy ice-pack on the St. Joe River threatened parts of Benewah County with dangerous flooding over the first-half of February. The city of St. Maries was on standby, but no evacuations were required after an emergency icebreaking effort on the river allowed the floodwaters to abate. Source: Shoshone News Press
- Papa John’s (Hayden)
- Boar’s Nest (Spirit Lake)
- Roger’s Ice Cream (Post Falls)
- Trek Store (Coeur d’Alene)
- Silverlake Automotive (Post Falls)
- Cloud Nine Bridal (Coeur d’Alene)
Sam.Wolkenhauer@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 457-8789 ext 4451
NORTH CENTRAL IDAHO – Clearwater, Idaho, Latah, Lewis and Nez Perce counties
- Megaloads can once again move along U.S. Highway 12 between Lewiston and Missoula, but only in limited numbers. The new rules were developed from a compromise in the federal court case filed by the Nez Perce Tribe and Idaho Rivers United against the U.S. Forest Service. Now, only one oversized vehicle – either more than 16 feet wide, more than 150 feet long or weighing more than 150,000 pounds – will be allowed to use the route in June, July and August. Two such vehicles will be allowed each month the rest of the year. The controversy about oversized vehicles began seven years ago when Imperial Oil initially proposed sending 200 loads along U.S. 12. Before Imperial Oil’s proposal, two to three oversized transports used the route each month. No megaloads have moved between Lewiston and Missoula since September 2013, when a temporary injunction was issued in the federal case. As well as prohibiting oversize shipments on a 100-mile section of the highway through the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest along the Middle Fork of the Clearwater and Lochsa rivers, the ruling also required the Forest Service to conduct a study in consultation with the Nez Perce Tribe to see how the corridor’s cultural and intrinsic values are affected by megaloads. Source: Lewiston Tribune
Idaho and Lewis Counties
Several new businesses recently opened in Cottonwood and more business development is expected.
- The Tire Guy opened Nov. 1 in the former Nuxoll Shell Service in downtown Cottonwood. The new business sells gas and tires and provides auto repair and maintenance services.
- Serena Lockett and Jessie Blankenship plan to open The Bent Hinge Do-It-Yourself Workshop at the corner of Main and Kings streets. The store will sell personalized mugs, clothing and other items created by the duo, and will offer workshops where customers can create their own work of art.
- Veronica Johnson opened C’est La V’s, a small café, in Cottonwood’s Duman Mini-Mall in January. Johnson offers breakfasts and lunches and expects to serve more take-out meals than in its small seating area.
- Another new business, Come On Delivery, will bring customers meals from C’est La V’s and other restaurants, groceries, auto parts, prescriptions and other supplies. It serves Cottonwood, Keuterville, Greencreek and Ferdinand.
- Gary Riener, owner of Riener’s Grocery, purchased the former Seubert Insurance building abutting his store in downtown Cottonwood with plans to expand. Other uses for the space are being considered and will be determined by the time renovations are completed in April.
- Cottonwood Joint School District has worked with the Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce and Clearwater Economic Development Association to sell the former elementary school on Lewiston Street. It could provide an economic boost depending on how it will be used by its new owners.
Sources: Idaho County Free Press, Cottonwood Chronicle
- Alaska Airline’s morning flights departing from the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport are moving to an earlier time, effective in April, to help alleviate missed and delayed connections at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Demand for air services continues to grow with the area’s population and as Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, the area’s largest private employer, expands. Passenger numbers rose to 122,000 in 2016, breaking records for the third year in a row. Ten years ago passengers numbered 46,700. The $119 million runway expansion project began July and should be ready for a test flight by the Federal Aviation Administration in October 2019. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News
- EcoAnalysts Inc., a Moscow business that researches aquatic biological communities, is expanding. It recently hired several scientists experienced in addressing technical, regulatory and legal challenges facing clients in the port and commercial maritime, oil and gas, fisheries, mining and legal industry sectors. One of Moscow’s larger technology transfer companies, it employs more than 50 people. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News
- Pullman-based Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL) is introducing a new product – an electrical relay – which reduces the time it takes to spot a would-be problem in a transmission line from as many as 24 milliseconds to less than 1 millisecond. That means more electricity can be delivered without adding more lines, which can cost millions of dollars and require environmental permits that can take years to obtain. SEL has grown four-fold in the past 10 years. It employs 2,650 people in Pullman and Lewiston and 4,800 worldwide. Source: Lewiston Tribune
- Washington State University’s president recently outlined an initiative to make it one of the top 25 public research universities in the nation by 2030. The “Drive to 25” focuses on developing its research portfolio and offering a transformative educational experience to students. Leaders in a broad range of industries – including software, technology and agriculture – recognized the need for cutting-edge research to keep them competitive in a global marketplace. Source: Lewiston Tribune
- Washington State University (WSU) enrolled a record number of students statewide – 28,240 – this spring, up 2 percent from the spring of 2016. Enrollment in Pullman exceeds 20,800 a 15 percent increase from 10 years ago. Increased enrollment in Pullman means more people to shop and play in Moscow. Many WSU students also live in Moscow. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News
- Small communities in north central Idaho continue to struggle accessing high-speed internet. However, fiber installation for internet access in Kendrick could be economically feasible under certain conditions, according to Access Consulting of Missoula. First Step Internet of Moscow has been a leader in efforts to expand broadband access throughout the region. Currently, it is focusing on the costs of fiber construction in rural communities within their service area, such as Kendrick, a town of 300. With financial help from First Step and a U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Business Development grant, Clearwater Economic Development Association contracted with Access Consulting of Missoula to complete a cost analysis on installing fiber connections within Kendrick. Access Consulting presented its findings to the Kendrick City Council in December. Source: CEDA in Motion monthly newsletter
- A pilot project focused on business development in and around Potlatch, a town of 800, is a spinoff from the Rural Community Development Initiative that Clearwater Economic Development Association (CEDA) launched two years ago. The project is part of an effort by city officials to create a business park at the former mill site on the edge of town. To focus those efforts, the pilot project will revamp the city’s comprehensive plan, leading ideas about how the city can address challenges faced by existing local businesses and remove barriers to attracting new businesses. CEDA will assist the city by helping with access to resources, including information and partner organizations. The association hopes that the approach used in Potlatch will used in numerous communities around the region over the next few years. Source: CEDA in Motion monthly newsletter
Nez Perce and Asotin, Washington, Counties
- Clearwater Paper plans to double its tissue manufacturing capacity in Shelby, North Carolina, by 2020 to meet growing demand in the eastern United States. A $44 million incentive package offered by North Carolina governments – which includes infrastructure, rail and road improvements; tax incentives; and training – played a role in the location decision. The Shelby plant will add about 180 jobs to its current 264. The growth there will not shift jobs away from Lewiston, which will supply Shelby’s existing and planned tissue factories with pulp. The company is in the midst of a $160-million upgrade at the Lewiston mill, where 1,370 people work. Source: Lewiston Tribune
- After adding 300 jobs in 2016, ammunition manufacturers in the Lewiston area have seen big drops in demand following the election of Donald Trump and are no longer hiring new workers. Demand for ammunition soared following the 2008 election of Barack Obama. Fearful of possible gun control efforts, gun owners stocked up on ammunition. Demand remained strong throughout the next eight years. Vista Outdoor’s employment in Lewiston grew from 900 in 2008 to 1,490 by November 2016. Vista Outdoor is sticking to its strategy for ammunition. It hasn’t laid off any of its employees in Lewiston, although it has reduced overtime. Its $70 million new rimfire plant project is underway at its South Port site near the Lewiston-Nez Perce County Regional Airport. Howells Munition has experienced a drop in demand and has quit expanding. Source: Lewiston Tribune
- This winter’s exceptionally cold, snowy weather hurt golf courses, hotels and restaurants in the Lewiston area. Typically, golf courses are closed for only a few days during the winter and many golfers comes from all over the Northwest and even southern Canada to play Lewiston area courses, while courses in their own area remain closed. It’s been 17 years since Bryden Canyon Golf Course in Lewiston closed for a couple of weeks. This winter, it was closed seven weeks – from early December to early February. Typically, it would be hosting about half as many golfers as it does in warmer weather. It’s hoped that the weather through April will allow the area’s golf courses to draw hundreds of golfers as they normally do. February, March and April are usually some of the busiest months of the year. Source: Lewiston Tribune
- Lost Key Escape Rooms, a new business in Lewiston created by sisters Kelsy Gibbs and Kristin Legg, provides a recreational experience giving customers a chance to test their skills in a fictional serial bomber scenario. Source: Lewiston Tribune
Kathryn.Tacke@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 799-5000 ext. 3984
SOUTHWESTERN IDAHO – Ada, Adams, Boise, Canyon, Elmore, Gem, Owyhee, Payette, Valley & Washington counties
- Plans for a mixed-use, commercial/apartment complex and a handful of townhomes are set to break ground this summer in Boise’s West End. The development company, 2 North Homes, plans to build the four-story mixed-use complex with about 6,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor and 23 apartments or condominiums on the upper three floors. The new development will replace Jerry’s 27th Street Market, which closed last year, and the Islamic Center of Boise, which is relocating. Source: Idaho Statesman
- Balsam Brands, artificial Christmas tree and home décor e-commerce retailer, is moving its administrative offices from Meridian’s Central Valley Corporate Park to the Rose Room in downtown Boise. Balsam Brands, based in the San Francisco Bay area, was founded in 2006 by Thomas Harman, and it opened a second administrative office in Meridian in 2011. It has grown to 120 employees with $100 million in annual revenue. The Meridian office has 20 employees but that is projected to double in the next two or three years. Source: Idaho Business Review
- WestVet, the 24/7 veterinary clinic in Garden City, cut the ribbon on its new 32,000-square-foot building adjacent to its original clinic in February. The new building has five surgery suites, 16 exam rooms and a new physical therapy area for animals. Source: BoiseDev.com
- The Ambrose School is expanding to an 8-acre corner property at Locust Grove and Chinden in Meridian. The land adjoins the 7 acres that Ambrose bought in November 2015. Ambrose first plans to add parking and landscaping this summer on half of the never-developed property. Within the next two years, the private school will add sports fields and the first of several new classroom buildings. Source: Idaho Business Review
- The Penthouse at the CW Moore Plaza in downtown Boise is about to undergo a revamp. The ninth floor space serves two purposes – during the workday as Zee’s Rooftop Cafe, and on weekends and evenings as event space CW Penthouse. Both functions of the rooftop will close through mid-March for an $81,000 remodeling project. The new space is set to be open by March 15. Source: BoiseDev.com
- Chandler’s Steakhouse has reopened after a monthlong, $1 million renovation project. Source: Idaho Statesman
- Meridian’s Mormon temple, which began construction in 2014, will be dedicated on Nov. 19, church officials announced this month. The temple on North Linder Road is the fifth Mormon temple in Idaho. Source: Idaho Statesman
- The J.R. Simplot Co. has acquired three stores in Hawaii as part of its turf and horticulture business. The year-round growing season in Hawaii made this acquisition attractive to increase production of Simplot fertilizers. Source: Idaho Business Review
- Brundage Mountain Resort near McCall could become part of a year-round destination resort if plans are fully realized. The 336-acre chunk of land which surrounds the resort’s base area is on the market with an asking price of $9.8 million. The land was formerly part of the Payette National Forest, and is approved for as many as 900 housing units, many with ski-in, ski-out access. Development studies have been completed regarding water, sewer, access, easements and proposed housing project to be integrated with minimal impact to the pristine surroundings while adding hospitality and resort type amenities for vacationers to enjoy. Any buyer would have five years to build out the planned unit development as part of an agreement with Adams County. Source: BoiseDev.com
- Ridley’s Family Markets officials met with engineers to come up with a plan after the company’s Weiser supermarket was heavily damaged Jan. 19 in a snowstorm. One-third of the roof caved in on the backside of the 30,000-square-foot structure and one wall buckled outward. The dollar amount of the damage has not been determined. The company plans to rebuild but will temporarily move to a vacant King’s store in Weiser until reconstruction is complete. Source: Idaho Business Review
Openings and Expected Openings
- Culvers, a Wisconsin-based franchise restaurant, is in the building permit process to secure a lot on Tecate Lane in Meridian. The company plans to start construction soon and open by June.
- Pizzeria Sazio opened Jan. 26 on the Boise Bench.
- El Tenampa opened a new restaurant at Boise Spectrum on Jan. 19 in the former On the Border location.
- Joint restaurants Willowcreek Grill and Raw Sushi will open at the location formerly occupied by The Dish in downtown Boise.
- Wylder LLC has filed to open Rex Pizza, a 2,480-square-foot restaurant and bar, in The Fowler, an apartment and retail complex slated to open in downtown Boise later this year
- Paddles Up Poké restaurant is set to open in March in downtown Boise in the former location of Mixed Greens gift shop.
- Mixed Greens gift shop is moving a few doors down on Ninth Street in Boise to a larger space.
- Construction is expected to start in April on the $34 million Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine in Meridian, the state’s first medical college.
- Vincenzo Trattoria plans to open in early March in Boise in the 2,241-square-foot space at Northgate Shopping Center formerly occupied by Jades Chopstick, which closed recently.
- New men’s clothing store Keystone Station opened in February in downtown Boise at the former location of Ye Olde Sweet Shoppe.
- Discount Tire is opening a new store on State Street near Glenwood in Boise.
- Boise-based auto care chain Commercial Tire opened its 41st location on Linder Road in the Eagle area.
Closings and Expected Closings
- Discount Tire has closed a store at Nampa Gateway.
- The clothing store Wet Seal is closing at the Boise Towne Square mall as the 55-year-old company goes through bankruptcy.
- Boise Towne Square shoe outlet Aldo closed in February.
Ethan.Mansfield@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 332-3570 ext. 3455
SOUTH CENTRAL IDAHO – Blaine, Camas, Cassia, Gooding, Jerome, Lincoln, Minidoka and Twin Falls counties
- Kings Variety Store announced it will close all retail operations. It cited competition from online retailers – many who do not hire sales people or need brick and mortar facilities – as a contributor to its shuttering. The company has an online presence, and it is unclear whether this part of the business will be ongoing. The closures impact south central Idaho which is home to its corporate headquarters, a distribution center and six stores located in Hailey, Gooding, Buhl, Twin Falls, Rupert and Burley. The business was started in 1915 and currently has 21 stores located in six states, according to the company’s website.
- Sagebrush Solar merged with Altenergy after a ‘major solar explosion’ in the Wood River Valley, according to Billy Mann, president of Sagebrush Solar. An estimated 600 panels were installed last year, about three times the normal activity level. Part of the successful marketing was the return on investment, which moved from 15 years to 12 years. Energy prices in Idaho are some of the lowest in the country, so it is more difficult to convince customers of the benefits because of the long-term nature of the payback. Altenergy has 60 employees in Boise that supports the five-person operation in the Wood River Valley by assisting with permitting and regulatory reports. Source: Idaho Business Review
- Hailey was awarded two Idaho Department of Transportation (ITD) grants. One almost $500,000 grant to design and construct a connector from the bike and pedestrian path to Main Street will complement the Pathways for People initiative. Essentially, the initiative is Hailey citizens voting to tax themselves to fund a community amenity. The other grant is for $57,500 to improve nine ramps along Main Street and was awarded by the ITD’s Americans with Disabilities Act Curb Ramp Program. Source: Idaho Mountain Express
- Silver Creek Inn is the next hotel to take shape in Blaine County but this time it is on the south end of the county in Bellevue and is expected to offer a less expensive alternative to the Ketchum lodging market. The area attracts many anglers to Silver Creek for world class fly fishing. The $5 million hotel was designed by Jay Cone Architecture of Hailey, and the general contractor is Riemann Design & Construction of Hailey with modular products produced by Nashua Homes of Boise. Financing was provided through Region IV Development along with backing by the Small Business Administration.
- The city of Ketchum collected almost $300,000 in local option taxes in December 2016. Room taxes increased by 42 percent compared with the same time period in 2015. Building material receipts increased by 24 percent. The groceries and liquor sales showed smaller growth but still increased from the previous year. The Sun Valley Resort hit a one-day record for the most skiers on Bald and Dollar mountains at more than 9,000. Source: Idaho Mountain Express
- Double L Manufacturing reported that equipment sales are strong despite low potato prices nationally. The company has a global presence and Brock Mitchell, vice president of sales, said he believes the contract market with processors provides some stability for the potato industry, enabling growers to take advantage of new product innovations. According to the University of Idaho’s report to the joint Idaho Legislature’s Economic Outlook and Revenue Assessment Committee, Idaho’s cash receipts for all agriculture products dropped four percent in 2016 – from $7.5 billion to $7.2 billion. Potato prices were down 2 percent. Source: Capital Press and University of Idaho
Twin Falls County
- Gregg Middlekauff, owner of Middlekauff Automotive Group, has invested in rooftop solar systems for its two dealerships. The savings associated with the power switch will be donated to charity. The carbon offset is estimated at 3,574 pounds over the life of the system — the equivalent of driving 481,589 miles. Estimated power savings are $15,000 to $23,000 monthly. Source: Times-News
- Idaho Power hosted a ribbon cutting for its new Twin Falls Operations Center. The new building will combine different departments together under one roof – a roof complete with solar panels that generate enough energy to power seven to eight typical homes for a year. Energy efficient LED lighting and a more efficient HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system are also pluses to the new building. Idaho Power estimates 106 employees will now work out of one building and include a large auditorium available for meetings and training events. Source: Times-News
- Twin Falls School District reported on progress at the construction site for South Hills Middle School, scheduled for completion May 2017. Some of the challenges reported by Brady Dickinson, administrator, include completing landscaping in spite of erratic weather patterns, ensuring specialty equipment for science labs is ordered and staffing the new school. The school has a capacity for 1,000 students, and the school district plans to move 300 students from the existing two middle schools. Current teachers have been surveyed to see if they are interested in moving to one of the new schools while new teachers and support staff will have to be hired. The school is estimated to cost $31 million and was funded by a $74 million school bond that included two new elementary schools along with renovations to existing schools throughout the district. Source: Times-News
- The Magic Valley Idaho Department of Labor office is hosting monthly meetings for employers to network and listen to informational speakers on relevant topics for the business community. The next seminar is on Wednesday, March 15, at the Idaho Labor office, 420 Falls Avenue from 10 a.m. to noon. The topic is wage and hour laws, including the Fair Labor Standard Act and how it relates to Idaho. Source: Idaho Department of Labor
Jan.Roeser@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 735-2500 ext 3639
SOUTHEASTERN IDAHO – Bannock, Bear Lake, Bingham, Caribou, Franklin, Oneida & Power counties
- Idaho State University is moving forward on a plan to relocate some College of Technology programs to the university’s Research and Innovation in Science and Engineering Complex. The State Board of Education approved construction design work to determine cost estimates for the proposed $1 million RISE Complex project on the university’s Pocatello campus. Source: Idaho News Service
- Amy’s Kitchen hosted a job fair early in the year with plans to hire about 50 more full-time workers. Amy’s Kitchen is a family owned company that manufactures organic foods. The company started in 1987 and expanded to Pocatello in 2014. It originally hired 70 local people and since then has grown to 480 employees. Source: KPVI
- The city of Aberdeen was awarded a $20,000 planning grant from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality to evaluate the city’s wastewater system and address future discharge limits. The funds will be used to prepare a wastewater planning document and an environmental report. The total eligible cost of the project is $40,000. The remaining $20,000 will be provided by the city of Aberdeen. Source: Aberdeen Times
- The Eastern Idaho Regional Wastewater Authority Oxbow Plant in Shelley will receive an upgrade to comply with stricter Environmental Protection Agency limits for phosphorus discharge. The proposed upgrade involves an additional building with chemical tanks to remove phosphorus. The total cost of the addition is estimated at $2 million. Source: The Shelley Pioneer
- Another 150 acres of land in Bingham County has been found to contain pale cyst nematode (PCN), a potato pest. This brings the number of PCN-infested fields to 27 and the infested area to 3,047 acres. Fields in north Bingham County and southwest Bonneville County were first found to have the nematode in 2006. The pest can reduce productivity of potato plants by 80 percent. Source: The Shelley Pioneer
- The Idaho STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Action Center awarded nearly $250,000 in computer science device grants to schools and other public education programs throughout the state, including nearly $12,000 to two schools in Blackfoot. The Blackfoot Charter Community Learning Center received $2,000 to purchase 12 more Chromebooks, doubling their current number. The Idaho Science and Technology Charter School received $9,809 to acquire Chromebooks and teach coding and other computer science concepts to more than 230 students. Source: Morning News
- The Bureau of Land Management gave its final approval for the Rasmussen Valley mine proposed by Agrium. With this approval Agrium will continue to provide 500 well-paying jobs in southeastern Idaho, and the state will continue to benefit from $260 million in economic impact. However, an appeal filed by the Yellowstone to Uintas Connection (Y2U) on the same day is stopping the work from moving forward — at least for now. The Bureau is reviewing Y2U’s appeal with the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) Solicitor’s Office. The DOI Board of Land Appeals will decide the group’s request for a stay of the bureau’s decision and will also conduct a final review and ruling of the BLM’s decision based on the reasons and rationale contained in the group’s appeal. Sources: Caribou County Sun, Idaho State Journal
- YourFIT, or Your Future in Technology, kicked off this month with a career fair at Preston High School. The program is a series of career fair expos in high schools across southeastern Idaho to raise awareness of high-wage careers in industries looking to replace their aging workforce. The Idaho National Laboratory, Simplot, ON Semiconductor, Idaho Power and Monsanto are some of the business that will be represented at the expos. Source: Idaho State Journal
- Franklin County Medical Center is looking at a major expansion project that would take place over the next several years. The center is in the process of applying for a loan with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which will cover 100 percent of the expansion costs. Source: Preston Citizen
- Developers met with Malad City Council to discuss a tentative planned development annexing approximately 110 acres south of Malad into the city. The proposed plan would contain an assisted living center, patio housing, condominiums and six-plexes. Source: The Idaho Enterprise
- Malad City Council has approved a wastewater treatment plan to correct problems with existing sewer facilities. The plan chosen would be completed in two phases with a total project cost of $13.6 million and an annual operating and maintenance cost of $107,000. Source: The Idaho Enterprise
- Teton Honda dealership in Pocatello
- Food For Thought Take Out in Old Town Pocatello
- Gomm’s Warm Cookies in Blackfoot
- Emerging Horizons in Blackfoot
- Patterson Gas-N-Go in Bancroft
Esther.Eke@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 236-6710 ext. 4331
EASTERN IDAHO – Bonneville, Butte, Clark, Custer, Fremont, Jefferson, Lemhi, Madison & Teton counties
- Buried radioactive waste removal at a desert site in eastern Idaho 80 percent complete. U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) officials say they are ahead of schedule unearthing acres of Cold War-era radioactive waste from a landfill on the desert site. Since 2005, the DOE and its contractors have dug up about 4.5 acres out of 5.69 acres — or nearly 80 percent — of the waste targeted for removal at the 97-acre Subsurface Disposal Area. Contractor Fluor Idaho says it expects to finish the removal process well before a 2020 deadline in its contract with the DOE. That’s about two years before DOE was originally scheduled to finish. Source: Post Register
- Idaho Falls-based North Wind Group finalized the purchase of Portage, a top competitor that also is based locally. Both companies specialize in engineering, construction and environmental remediation work under contracts with the Department of Energy, Department of Defense and other agencies. North Wind acquired Portage and all of its subsidiaries in a complete stock purchase. Source: Post Register
- RMP was awarded a U.S. Department of Energy grant for electric car charging stations. The grant specifies 1,500 miles of highway corridors along Interstate 15, Interstate 80, Interstate 70 and Interstate 84, a Rocky Mountain Power news release said. The grant’s purpose is to increase the number of electric vehicles in the region. The target for the grant is a doubling of electric vehicles in the region to 50,000 over the next 10 years. Source: Post Register
- Bonneville County residents will determine in the voting booths whether the College of Eastern Idaho becomes reality. The Idaho State Board of Education unanimously recommended the creation of a community college taxing district, a step towards establishing the College of Eastern Idaho in Bonneville County. Voters will get a chance to approve or reject the district’s formation in the May 16 election. The initiative requires a 66.67 percent supermajority to pass. Source: Post Register
- The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality awarded a $42,407 drinking water planning grant to the city of Ammon. The funds will be used to prepare a planning study and environmental information document. The purpose of the project is to evaluate the water system’s deficiencies and identify necessary improvements. The total eligible cost of the project is $84,815. The remaining $42,408 will be funded by the city. Source: Post Register
- The city broke ground on its first commercial fiber district in August. Source: Post Register
- The Persnickety Lemon, a deli and indoor farmers’ market of sorts, has opened on Park Avenue in Idaho Falls. In addition to selling artisanal breads and baked items from small businesses such as Blue Spoon Kitchen, Iona Juice and Wellness and Grain Revival, it offers the use of a commercial-grade, health department-approved kitchen for people such as Jodi Fohs, whose Josephine’s Fresh Salsa has been a sell-out item at the Farmers’ Market. Source: BizMojo
- Bonneville County has purchased the former Washington Federal bank building in downtown Idaho Falls as part of an effort to free up space at the courthouse. The county finalized the $360,000 sale for the one-story building on North Capital Avenue on Jan. 30, Commissioner Roger Christensen said. The county treasurer’s office and several GIS mapping employees, about 15 in all, will take over the main floor of the 7,200-square-foot building starting in the summer. Source: Post Register
- Park Avenue Antique Mall owners plan to retire and close down the antique shop, but will renovate the historic building. Besides plumbing repairs, the owners plan to update the ground floor with new carpet, paint and encase the pillars in an effort to restore its original look. Owners say there is an opportunity to separate the space into more than one retail area to rent out. It is uncertain whether they will sell the building once it is renovated, or if they will keep it and lease it out to different businesses. Source: Post Register
- A building at Canyon Creek Cabinets burned to the ground mid-February. The building was considered to be a complete loss. Source: Post Register
- Fresco Kitchen and Grill is under construction in Rexburg with hopes to open the last week in March. A grand opening will take place about a month after it opens. Source: Post Register
- The new Motel 6 in Rexburg is slotted to open its doors on April 11. Source: Post Register
- The city of Rexburg is joining the Regional Economic Development for Eastern Idaho organization (REDI). The move will help in promoting business recruitment, expansion and retention. Rexburg joins REDI members Bonneville County, Idaho Falls, Ammon, Ucon, Bingham County, Blackfoot and Shelley. Source: Rexburg Standard Journal
- The City of Rexburg and the Rexburg Arts Council have completed several projects thanks to grants from the Idaho State Historical Society for $1,500, the Idaho Humanities Council for $2,000 and from the CHC Foundation for $4,700. The projects included cleanup and reorganization of the Museum of Rexburg, the Teton Dam Flood anniversary event, sound booth to record patrons’ memories of the flood, volunteer training, traveling exhibits coordination, iPads for interactive exhibits and a catalog system upgrade. Source: Post Register
- Kate’s Real Food, a Teton Valley-based nutrition bar manufacturing enterprise, has expanded offerings outside of Teton Valley with several national grocery outdoor goods chains such as Wegman’s Markets and REI. Kate’s Real Food has been in business for seven years and has had products available locally and across the Intermountain West for some time, however national distribution has made the products available anywhere. Source: Post Register
- The Salmon City Council approved a special event permit from Ride Idaho to occupy Salmon City Park Aug. 8-9. Ride Idaho is an annual bicycle tour covering a different route in the state each year. More than 300 bike riders, around 40 support vehicles and 250 tents will take over the city park this year as part of its route. Source: The Recorder Herald
- Black Bear Diner in Idaho Falls has officially opened as of Jan. 30. The Idaho Falls location is the third location in Idaho with other locations in Boise and Chubbuck. Source: East Idaho News
- Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers franchise recently opened in Rexburg. Source: Post Register
Hope.Morrow@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 525-7268 ext. 4340